Health care aide program

Learn about health care aide education in Alberta, the curriculum offered and where you can study to become a health care aide.


Health care aides (HCAs) work under the direct or indirect supervision of a regulated health professional, such as a nurse, in a variety of settings including, but not limited to:

  • home care
  • assisted living facilities and lodges
  • long-term care and designated supportive living facilities
  • acute care hospitals
  • private agencies
  • individual clients

HCAs provide basic health services, assistance and support with activities of daily living for clients who have medical conditions or major functional limitations.

In Alberta, the HCA occupation is currently unregulated. To ensure consistent education of the HCA workforce in Alberta, the Alberta government developed and owns the HCA Provincial Curriculum. Licensed post-secondary institutions use this curriculum to educate people who want to be HCAs. The most recent update to the provincial curriculum was in 2019.

New license agreements for post-secondary institutions are on hold indefinitely

Effective October 1, 2017, the Alberta government implemented a moratorium on licensing new post-secondary institutions to offer the HCA Provincial Curriculum. The moratorium remains in effect until further notice, to allow the government sufficient time to:

  • evaluate the workforce supply and demand, as well as clinical placement challenges and opportunities; and
  • plan and allocate resources to conduct efficient license application reviews

Alberta HCA Directory

The Alberta HCA Directory acts as a database to collect information on the HCA workforce. The directory provides information about HCAs in Alberta, and has a number of resources including news, education and job boards.

All HCAs working for a publicly funded employer must maintain continued enrolment on the Alberta HCA Directory.

Alberta Health has mandated that HCAs currently on the directory who completed the Alberta HCA Curriculum (2013), or previous versions, must update their education by successfully completing the Alberta HCA Bridging Modules on the directory before HCAs are regulated in Alberta. The date of regulation is unknown at this time.

Competency profile

Learn more about the Health Care Aide Competency Profile – 2018.

How to become a HCA in Alberta

To become a HCA in Alberta, you have 4 options:

  1. Complete a HCA program in Alberta. This must be through a post-secondary institution licensed to use the 2019 provincial curriculum, and you must pass the Provincial Alberta HCA Examination to obtain an Alberta HCA certificate. Contact the licensed post-secondary institutions listed below for additional program information, including admission requirements, course length, format and tuition cost.
  2. If you have previous education and training comparable to the Alberta HCA Program, you may obtain an Alberta HCA certificate by undergoing a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition evaluation and passing the Provincial Alberta HCA Examination. This evaluation is available at a cost through some licensed post-secondary institutions offering the HCA program.
  3. If you have educational experience similar to a HCA, were a health-care provider, internationally educated nurse, or are a nursing student, you may complete a Substantial Equivalence Assessment. More information about the Substantial Equivalence Assessment process is on the Alberta HCA Directory website: Substantial Equivalence Assessment.
  4. Some employers will hire HCAs and use the Provincial Competency Assessment Profile tool to assess their skills and competencies. The employer provides HCAs with appropriate education. These HCAs are considered ‘deemed competent’.

HCA program information

As of January 1, 2023, the following entry requirements must be met to be eligible for entry into a licensed HCA program:

Digital literacy

Candidates must possess knowledge of computer and technology tools to be successful in the program. Candidates must:

  • be able to communicate, research and understand information
  • know how to use computer to surf web and email
  • be able to critically evaluate and understand how technology can affect one’s behaviour
  • be able to create, produce content and effectively communicate using email, media, internet

Academic English Language Arts (ELA)

  • English 20-1 or 20-2 with a minimum score of 60% achieved or Canadian jurisdiction equivalent, or
  • English 30-1 or 30-2 with a minimum of 55% or Canadian jurisdiction equivalent, such as a Canadian High School Equivalency Diploma (General Education Development-test), or
  • deemed equivalent by completion of ACCUPLACER Next-Generation (assessment placement test) reading and writing tests, with a minimum score of 237 in each category. The math test is not required.

Note: Students who have not met the ELA requirement (that is, 20-1, 20-2, 30-1, or 30-2 English level) with the minimum grade are subject to completing the ACCUPLACER Next-Generation assessment test. This includes students from out-of-province, out-of-country, or mature students that have been out of school for a significant length of time.

English Language Proficiency (ELP)

Candidates where English is a Second Language (ESL) must meet the English Language Proficiency requirement in addition to the Academic English requirement. Equivalencies are:

  • present a Canadian High School Equivalency Diploma (General Education Development-test), or
  • attend high school in Canada – studies must have been in English at an approved Canadian high school (grades 9 to 12) with at least 3 consecutive years of full-time academic study, or
  • provide evidence of attending 2 consecutive years of full-time equivalent post-secondary study in English in a subject other than a HCA program at a Canadian institution, or
  • complete an approved ELP test with the required Canadian Language Benchmark – a minimum CLB of 7 in each of the 4 language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and not an average of 7

Approved English Language Proficiency (ELP) tests

  1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic – 6 (no section score below 5.5)
  2. Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Testing (TOEFL iBT) – 71
  3. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General – 7 (with no section score below 6)
  4. Canadian Language Benchmarks Tests, Milestones Test (7 in each strand, not an average of 7)
  5. Duolingo English Test (minimum score of 95)
  6. Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN) – 7 in each area of listening, reading, writing and speaking, not an average of 7


Test currency – results must have been obtained within 2 years of the start date of the program.

Test validity – IELTS (Academic) and TOEFL results are valid for 2 years from the day of testing. Results that expire prior to the start date of the program will not be accepted.

HCA bursaries

Read about Alberta HCA bursaries – applicable to attending any licensed post-secondary institution.

Email questions to: [email protected]
Phone: 780-644-6500

Licensed institutions

Contact the post-secondary institutions listed below for additional program information including admission requirements, course length, delivery and tuition costs.

Licensed post-secondary educational institutions (Curriculum-2019)

  • ABM College
  • Academy of Learning
  • Alberta Business and Educational Services (ABES)
  • University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak (Blue Quills University)
  • Bow Valley College
  • Columbia College
  • Health Care Aide Academy
  • Keyano College
  • Lakeland College
  • Lethbridge College
  • MaKami College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • MTG Healthcare Academy
  • Nightingale Academy
  • NorQuest College
  • Northern Lakes College
  • Northwestern Polytechnic
  • Mikai'sto (Red Crow Community College)
  • Red Deer Polytechnic
  • Robertson College
  • Rosewood College
  • Training Inc.
  • University of Alberta, Campus St Jean

Licensed post-secondary educational institutions teaching combined ESL and HCA program

  • Columbia College
  • Bow Valley College
  • NorQuest College
  • Red Deer Polytechnic



For questions related to HCAs or the Alberta HCA Directory:
Email: [email protected]

For questions related to the Substantial Equivalence Assessment:
Email: [email protected]

For questions related to the provincial HCA exam:
Email: [email protected]

Connect with the Health Workforce Strategy and Planning Branch:
Email: [email protected]

Alberta Health
Health Workforce Strategy and Planning Branch
PO Box 1360, Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 2N3